Tag Archives: Google

‘Much-Needed’: FTC Bolsters Privacy Rules to Protect Kids Online

“Anyone who believes that children deserve to explore and play online without being tracked and manipulated should support this update.”

By Julia Conley. Published 12-20-2023 by Common Dreams

Image by Freepik.

To ensure that tech giants will not have “carte blanche with kids’ data,” as one advocacy group said, the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday unveiled major proposed changes to the United States’ online privacy law for children for the first time in a decade, saying that companies’ evolving practices and capabilities require stronger protection for young people.

“Kids must be able to play and learn online without being endlessly tracked by companies looking to hoard and monetize their personal data,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan as she announced proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998.

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‘Shocking Breach’: Probe Shows Tax Prep Companies Shared Personal Data With Tech Giants

One expert called the new revelations “a five-alarm fire” for taxpayer privacy.

By Jake Johnson. Published 7-12-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: QuoteInspector

After a seven-month investigation, a group of congressional Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders released a bombshell report Wednesday showing that private tax prep firms have been secretly sharing U.S. taxpayers’ sensitive personal information with tech giants for years, a practice that the lawmakers condemned as outrageous and possibly illegal.

The report, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) in the House, notes that TaxAct, H&R Block, and TaxSlayer “used computer code—known as pixels—to send data to Meta and Google.” The lawmakers’ investigation was sparked by recent reporting in The Markup.

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Google to Block Local News Articles in Canada Over Law Targeting Big Tech

The move comes one week after Meta made the same threat following the passage of a law that policy experts say is an inadequate response to the crisis of underfunded journalism.

By Kenny Stancil. Published 6-29-2023 by Common Dreams

The Googleplex (Google headquarters) in Mountain View, CA. Photo: The Pancake of Heaven!/CC

Google announced Thursday that it will block local news content from search results in Canada once a new law requiring it and Meta to pay media outlets for linking to articles goes into effect in about six months.

Meta said last week that it will pull journalistic content from Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the same law, known as Bill C-18 and the Online News Act.

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How big tech and AI are putting trafficking survivors at risk

The tech industry’s privileging of ‘safety over privacy’ could get the most vulnerable killed

By Sabra Boyd. Published 6-14-2023 by openDemocracy

Ring spotlight camera’ Photo: Trusted Reviews/CC

High above the homeless camps of Seattle, in September 2022, Amazon hosted the first Tech Against Trafficking Summit. It was an elite affair. Project managers and executives from Amazon, Google, Facebook (Meta), Instagram, and Microsoft were present, as were ministers of labour from around the globe. Panellists included government leaders, law enforcement, tech executives, and NGO directors. Only two trafficking survivors made the speakers’ list.

The summit was above all a show of force. Most of the tools presented were built for law enforcement, and safety over privacy appeared to be the mantra. Only the two survivors highlighted the dangers of haphazardly collecting any and all data, a view that was generally scoffed at. Stopping traffickers by any means necessary, the non-survivors said, was more important.

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Digital Rights Groups Applaud US Supreme Court for Protecting Free Speech Online

“Today’s decisions should be commended for recognizing that the rules we apply to the internet should foster free expression, not suppress it,” said the deputy director of ACLU’s National Security Project.

By Kenny Stancil. Published 5-18-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Beatrice Murch/flickr/CC

Civil liberties advocates on Thursday praised the U.S. Supreme Court for a pair of unanimous rulings that they say uphold the right to free speech on online platforms.

The high court’s decisions in Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google represent “a win for free expression on the internet,” the ACLU tweeted.

Alongside its partners, the ACLU “filed amicus briefs in both cases urging the court to ensure online platforms are free to promote, demote, and recommend content without legal risk in order to protect political discourse, cultural development, and intellectual activity,” the group noted in a statement.

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Concerns Over Disinformation Grow After Musk Relaxes Twitter Ban on Political Ads

Critics expressed concern about the social media giant serving as “a major new forum for massive amounts of money to be spent to influence politics.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-4-2023 by Common Dreams

As advertisers depart Twitter in the wake of Elon Musk’s recent takeover, the billionaire owner continues to shake up the social media platform, which on Tuesday relaxed a ban on political and issue-based advertising put in place for over three years.

When then-CEO Jack Dorsey announced the ban in October 2019, he explained that “this isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.” Continue reading

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Groups Warn SCOTUS May Gut ‘Foundational’ Digital Rights Law

“Weakening Section 230 would be catastrophic—disproportionately silencing and endangering marginalized communities,” said one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 10-4-2022 by Common Dreams

Rights advocates warn weakening Section 230 would disproportionately silence and endanger “marginalized communities including LGBTQ+ people, Black and Brown folks, sex workers, journalists, and human rights activists around the world.” Photo: Public domain

Digital rights advocates responded with alarm to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday decision to take up a case that could enable right-wing justices to gut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“Section 230 is a foundational and widely misunderstood law that protects human rights and free expression online,” said Fight for the Future director Evan Greer in a statement late Monday. Continue reading

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‘Big Win’: Google Search and Maps Will Now Say If Clinics Provide Abortions

The update is “a big deal for users who’ve been misled by pregnancy crisis centers masquerading as abortion providers,” said Alphabet Workers Union. “But not enough—Google must *remove* these misleading results.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 8-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Hundreds of Google workers have endorsed a petition urging Alphabet to stop supporting right-wing politicians and groups attacking reproductive freedom. (Photo: Democracy Now!/screenshot)

Pro-choice U.S. lawmakers and other critics of Google’s abortion-related search results welcomed the tech giant’s Thursday announcement of changes to better serve users seeking healthcare in a post-Roe v. Wade world.

In a letter to congressional Democrats and a statement to media outlets, Alphabet-owned Google reiterated its efforts to combat misleading advertisements and search results along with confirming that the company will clearly label whether medical facilities provide abortions. Continue reading

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Surveillance is pervasive: Yes, you are being watched, even if no one is looking for you

Video cameras on city streets are only the most visible way your movements can be tracked.
AP Photo/Mel Evans

Peter Krapp, University of California, Irvine

The U.S. has the largest number of surveillance cameras per person in the world. Cameras are omnipresent on city streets and in hotels, restaurants, malls and offices. They’re also used to screen passengers for the Transportation Security Administration. And then there are smart doorbells and other home security cameras.

Most Americans are aware of video surveillance of public spaces. Likewise, most people know about online tracking – and want Congress to do something about it. But as a researcher who studies digital culture and secret communications, I believe that to understand how pervasive surveillance is, it’s important to recognize how physical and digital tracking work together. Continue reading

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Why are so many big tech whistleblowers women? Here is what the research shows

The vast majority of high-profile big tech whistleblowers in recent years have been women.
Elke Meitzel/Image Source via Getty Images

Francine Berman, UMass Amherst and Jennifer Lundquist, UMass Amherst

A number of high-profile whistleblowers in the technology industry have stepped into the spotlight in the past few years. For the most part, they have been revealing corporate practices that thwart the public interest: Frances Haugen exposed personal data exploitation at Meta, Timnit Gebru and Rebecca Rivers challenged Google on ethics and AI issues, and Janneke Parrish raised concerns about a discriminatory work culture at Apple, among others.

Many of these whistleblowers are women – far more, it appears, than the proportion of women working in the tech industry. This raises the question of whether women are more likely to be whistleblowers in the tech field. The short answer is: “It’s complicated.” Continue reading

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